Monthly Archives: June 2014

Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)

Each one of your in-boxes is probably flooded with requests to ‘obtain consent’ from legitimate companies who want to keep you on their mailing list. This is due to the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) which comes into effect on July 1, 2014.

The legislation was put into place to reduce spam.  It isn’t intended to prevent legitimate companies from sending you email, for example, your telephone company emailing you an account statement.  This is important to realize; the CRTC isn’t going to go after a business for sending an email to their client – you already have a business relationship.  It’s the companies that you receive email from that you – and the 100,000 people that they just emailed – have never heard of before; them’s the bad guys!

It’s not as big a deal as it seems, and unfortunately many businesses are going to suffer a huge reduction in their mailing list numbers unnecessarily.  The new law requires a business to obtain express consent from you prior to sending you emails. This consent must include details of what the company will send you (i.e. a newsletter), when they will send it (i.e. monthly) and a note that you can unsubscribe.

If a business has taken these steps to add you to their list in the past – then they do not need to obtain consent prior to July 1, because you’ve already given it to them.  Also, businesses may be allowed to continue sending you emails (implied consent) during a grace period, in which they can obtain your express consent.

In any case, it’s a good idea for businesses to obtain consent.  Many businesses might have consent, but don’t have a record of when or how it was obtained – now a requirement.  In the case of Amazing Backcountry, we initially started as a fundraiser years ago. We had a simple ‘put your email in the box‘ mechanism to sign up for our newsletter. That distribution list grew to thousands of people, but unfortunately doesn’t meet the criteria of the new law.

We now have a full fledged email management system, like any legitimate business does. We can see that we have a 30% open rate for our EMagazine.  This is, in the marketing world, stupendous!  20% is considered the norm. So we know you’re reading our EMagazine, which is great – we put a lot of effort into it. Here is where the new legislation – in a way – helps us out. It isn’t worth our time to be sending communication to people that don’t want to read it.?? Our time is better spent marketing our business and building our membership – that’s how Amazing Backcountry succeeds.  So the new law is forcing many companies to clean up their distribution list; not a bad thing, from a marketing perspective.

We recently sent a ‘we need your consent’ email.  Only July 1, we will be removing all address from our list who have not given consent and are not members.  Not only because we have to, but because there isn’t any point sending something to someone who clearly doesn’t want it.  That said, if you are one of the 30% that reads our EMagazine, we’d love it if you stuck around.  To do so, there are 2 options:

Become an Amazing Backcountry member. By far the best option, obviously!  It’s 100% free.  We DON’T spam you.  Instead you’ll find a Trail Guide that you can add to and update, contests, activities, lots of social features for interaction with other members, an Adventures section where you can share stories of your rides along with photo galleries, Equine Geocaching and much more.  And you get our EMagazine!  If you want to, that is.  On your profile page, you can opt in or out of any communication we send.  Whenever you want. It’s easy.

If you receive our EMagazine, but don’t want to become a member, just click on the consent link in the email we sent out.  If at any time you don’t want to receive it, click on the unsubscribe link. Easy peasy.

And remember, we want to hear from you too! We’re always striving to add value to our site for our members, and to do that your feedback is essential. Send us an message and let us know how we’re doing and what you’d like to see on the site.


Scott and Brenda

Amazing Backcountry Fundraisers

In addition to all the social, geocaching and Trail Guide features of the site, Amazing Backcountry has another important feature we call Horse People Helping Horse People.  Basically we are open to hosting any fundraiser as long as it involves the equine community.

Amazing Backcountry fundraisers generally have contests and other activities, including geocaching, to make them fun and even challenging.  All you really have to do is direct donors to the website to sponsor you.

Amazing Backcountry is currently hosting four Fundraising Activities.  You can check them all out on the site, but we thought we’d give you a quick run down of what’s going on and how to participate.

First off, joining any of the Amazing Backcountry Fundraisers is easy.  On our home page, you’ll see all of our activities listed on the left hand side of the screen. To join one, simply click on the RIDE button. If you’re signed in and on your Ranch page, just click on ACTIVITIES in the main menu for a listing of all current activities.

Join one, or join them all!

Here’s what we have on the go right now. If you’re an Amazing Backcountry member, we hope you’ll consider joining one or more of these worthy activities. If not, you are welcome to sponsor any of our participating riders, or better yet, become an Amazing Backcountry member for free, and help out.

ABC Race for STARSABC Race for STARS (ends October 6)

The ABC Race for STARS was the activity that launched Amazing Backcountry.  Riders compete for prizes while raising money for STARS Air Ambulance – a heli-rescue service that operates from Manitoba to British Columbia.  They are a non-profit organization that saves lives every day.  One of our Amazing Backcountry members was saved by STARS after a wreck with her horse.?? Read More

Remuda Horsemanship

Remuda participants at Fiddle Pass

Remuda Horsemanship (ongoing)

Remuda is an equine assisted social skill development program for at-risk youth in which participants are encouraged to develop pro-social skills through interaction with horses. The program concentrates on traditional horsemanship methods and combines them with activities and ideologies from existing Adventure-based learning programs. Remuda is just getting into the geocaching too, so watch for more fun activities! Read More

CanPraxisCan Praxis (ongoing)

Helping soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While the Canadian Forces uses teambuilding, communications training and leadership development to prepare soldiers for war, Can Praxis uses horses to help soldiers recover from it and regain their family relationships. Can Praxis is also running a cross-Alberta PTSD awareness ride this August. Read More

Cindy and Josh Nichol - Bring our Kids Home Fundraiser

Cindy with children at the orphanage in the Congo


Bring our Kids Home (July 1 – August 30)

Well known horseman Josh Nichol and his wife Cindy are heading up a group of 30 Canadian families who are attempting to adopt children from the Congo. The Canadian government is refusing visas for these children – after they have all been legally adopted by their new Canadian families! This fundraiser will feature fun contests, with prizes selected by Josh.

Sign up for it today! Read More




Horses and Kids

Several years ago my neighbor, Chantele, called me. Her good friend, Denise, had recently lost her baby in the final days of her pregnancy. She was understandably distraught, and Chantele thought that a visit to my horses would be a therapeutic distraction. Little did she know, it would be an amazing experience for all of us.

The three of us were soon standing at the rail fence watching my horses. Chip, two months old at the time and always intrigued by visitors, bounded over to us. When he neared Denise though, his playful attitude evaporated. He slowly walked closer to her, and sniffed her.

Lowering his head, he nuzzled her.

The unspoken thought was in all of our minds: He knows you’re a mom.

She put her hand out and touched his neck. He closed his eyes. The communication between the two of them was instinctive. Electric. Emotional. There were no dry eyes.

Kids meet the new horse.

Kids meet the new horse.


The human world has many parallels in the animal world. This is understandable, considering we are just another animal species. Parallels manifest themselves in many areas, but one obvious and understood by all is the relationship with infants.

Take, for example, a colt in a herd. He can kick, bite, jump on and basically be a pain to every other horse around him. He is exploring his world, and is permitted to do so. He is engaging behaviour patterns that, although entirely and instinctively horse, allow him to learn through a feedback process: what happens if I do this? Sounds like a human child, doesn’t it?

The herd understands on an instinctive level that the actions of a colt are non-aggressive. If he becomes too annoying, they let him know. But they don’t respond as they would to a rival. They understand he is not a competitor in the ultimate herd order; at least not yet.

Similarly, both colts and adult horses know the difference between human children and adults. It is a beautiful part of nature’s poetry. And one we can capitalize on.

Horses understand kids.

Instinctive understanding

In the Company of Children

My paint horse, Spud, finds his way into many of my articles. Spud is the most mentally active animal I have ever experienced. When I climb on his back, he is aware that it will be an exploration in learning for both of us. He is in a different mental state because he knows he will be put in a position to think through a decision. When he isn’t sure if his decision will be the right one, he worries. Through our training he is learning to trust his decisions, and learn that even if he acts counter to my expectations, that I will coach him on the right path and he will feel great at the end of our ride.

With Spud I must be exceptionally cognizant that all of my actions are positive reinforcement.

Conversely, when a child is on his back, he is immediately in a different mental place. He is happy and calm, with his head down and his eyes half closed. They can pull on his mane or play with his ears. He is totally fine with that.


It’s because Spud knows that he’s in the company of an infant. And just like a colt, he’s attuned to their innocence. Like a colt, a human child has no ultimate motive or intention – no goals. They are simply full of wonder, play and awe. Sometimes infatuation. As easily as a horse can sense nervousness in an adult, they can sense innocence in a child.

Horses sense the innocence in children

Sensing the innocence

Spud is my first pick when taking a kid for a first ride. He’s the last horse I would put an adult on. My cousin, Deb, recently brought her daughters out to visit. I introduced them to all of my horses, then asked who they wanted to ride. Ashley picked Spud. I wasn’t surprised.



Capitalize on the Connection

Many of us have stories of children and horses. Sometimes those stories start with, I remember when I was a kid…and go on to relate some tale of a bareback bridle-less canter through the back pasture. We climbed on that horse because it felt right. We didn’t have an agenda for what to accomplish in the hour we allotted to be on his back; all we cared about was having fun with the horse. Do you think the horse knew that? Absolutely.

So as adults, where do we lose that innocence and intrinsic trust? Can we get it back? Can we make use of it? I believe we can.

Zara and Ponkey

Your head is bigger than my whole body!

Our adult lives seem forged in goals, motives and to-do lists. We need to have to have our horse ready for that competition on a specific date, no matter what. A pattern of schedule, competition, pressure and personal agenda. In this rush, we forget about the horses mind.

As adult humans, however, we have the ability to climb above instinctive emotions caused by pressure or fear. We have the ability to fall back on that child-like innocence. We can choose what emotions we feel. And we can use it to our advantage because a horse will sense it.

Spud has been my greatest teacher. If I focus on the mechanics of a physical maneuver I expect him to make, he becomes tense. However if I’m relaxed, smiling on the inside and enjoying the moment; if I’m not focussing solely on his response to my aids, but on our mutual goal as a single unit in the bigger picture, he picks up on that right away. To me, it feels like taking off the padlock and throwing away the chains. My understanding is that it feels the same way to him. My mental state creates a happy-place for him. In those moments we learn, accomplish and succeed.

Try this at Home

Saddle up your horse, climb on him in your pasture or paddock, and do nothing but enjoy the moment. Don’t ask anything of him. Enjoy him. Relax. Use all of your senses to feel him. If he moves off, let him. Just relax and feel what his body is doing. Get in tune with it. Smile a big smile. Think back to when you were a child, and give your horse a treat for a minute: be that kid. Fill your mind with innocence and fun; with awe and love and respect for that animal you are sitting on.

This is a very powerful state of mind. Capture it like a picture on your smartphone. File it so that you can use it again when you need to: Before a show when you’re nervous. When your horse is stressed because he is having trouble comprehending what you’re asking. When you’re frustrated.

Once you have achieved that mental state with your horse, then introduce the exercise by asking your horse to follow your body, not by driving him with your hands and feet.

Your horse might be wondering who this new awesome person is on his back. And you might be surprised at the results.